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How to prepare for a job interview

Whether you’re on the lookout for a job to pay your way through uni or you’ve just finished your degree, it’s likely that you’re starting to think (or fret) about job interviews. Luckily, interviews don’t need to be stressful, so long as you prepare beforehand. So if you’re in the midst of job applications, read on and keep these points in mind before attending your first interview.

  1. Pay attention to presentation and grooming: When you’re getting ready for a job interview, it’s important to make sure that you look presentable. It’s best to steer away from ill-fitting clothing or footwear, excessive jewellery and heavy make-up. It’s usually a good idea to remove any facial piercings and cover up tattoos, as these may not be appropriate in the workplace. You should also be aware of your mannerisms, posture and eye contact, as these can work for or against you in the interview room.
  2. Be early… but not too early: Although it’s important to be on time for your interview, it’s best not to show up too early, as the interviewer may feel rushed. Ideally, you should try to arrive around 5–10 minutes before the scheduled interview time and wait in the reception area, unless you have been told otherwise (some employers may require that you complete a test or supplementary application form). It’s also a good idea to work out your travel schedule the day before and add at least half an hour to counter for traffic or public transport delays. If you’re too early, a pre-interview snack or walk may calm your nerves.
  3. Know the company: Before the interview, you should conduct some research. It’s a good idea to see what the company does and how your role will fit in. The easiest way to do this is to visit the company’s website or social media channels. But remember, if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! This shows the interviewer that you’re interested. You can save in-depth questions until the end of the interview, where question time is generally allocated.
  4. Discuss how you match the role: It’s likely that you will be asked what you can bring to the company. The interviewer needs to see how you would take on the role and whether it is suited to your personality and skill set, so typically this is a good opportunity to bring up some of your strengths and cater them to the role. It’s a good idea to prepare a few examples beforehand and use them to demonstrate your maturity and job-readiness.
  5. Prepare for typical interview questions: Although it may not seem like the right time to talk about your weaknesses, this is a common theme of many interviews. While you should steer away from clichés (such as being a perfectionist or over-achiever), you will be expected to discuss one or more of your weaknesses and how they affect your work. Don’t be afraid to be honest, as it’s better to reveal any issues in the interview rather than on the job. Whether you’re applying for a part-time job or a full-time graduate position, it’s likely that the interviewer will also want to know where you see yourself heading. You may be asked to describe your aspirations for the next three, five or ten years and how this job would help you get there. You may also be asked about your current or previous workplace and how you have dealt with conflict or issues with management.

At the end of the interview, it’s important to thank the interviewer and let them know that you’re looking forward to hearing back from them. It’s likely that several people will have been interviewed for your position, so it’s not uncommon that you will need to wait up to a week or two to hear back about how you went. It can also be a good idea to politely ask when you can expect to hear from them, as this will avoid confusion on both sides. If you’re beginning to worry, it’s acceptable to send a brief follow-up email around two weeks after the interview.

Useful links:

Interview tips — Job Guide website

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